Chapter 1

ABHILASHA.

The night was dead.And that was all one could say. The wind wailed resounding in honour of the deceased night. The birds had gone up to roost; the crickets had begun their unheard orchestra behind the funeral song of cars all heading home after an exhausting day of work. In flat number 27 on the main road was a light that shown forth.Now no one would have noticed this of course as this was a non descript house on a non descript street. However, our story reckons with this house pay close attention. Within this house was a girl who was staring intently at the screen of an old battered laptop. Battered because it had been dropped twice and old as it was second hand. She was reading an e-mail during this very dead night.It read,

Dear candidate,

Congratulations! We are please to inform that you are accepted as am eligible candidate for the Center for Excellence, Bangalore. The next academic year will begin on the 1st of June 2017, Enclosed are a list of texts necessary for this academic year, along with the rules and regulations of the school for the 11th standard. We look forward to seeing you.

Regards

Nirav Metha

(principal CFE)

The girl reading this was one Abhilasha. The letters glinted off her glasses as she re read the mail and the water colour of a red blush painted itself on her face. There was a well worn The Canterbury tales besides her, full of notes and underlining’s done with a sort of maniacal obsession. Abhi was very pleased about the prospect of joining the Centre for Excellence as it was the best School in the country,famous for producing the best minds of the nation. She could not wait to go there and get started. Abhilasha then closed her laptop and stretched her hand up, cracking each individual knuckle. She then gave a resounding yawn and decided to go to bed. The exhausted study lamp on the desk was grateful to be given a break. She was about to dive under the covers when a faint tinkling was heard by her window and the curtains danced in the dying wind. There almost ethereally, a sing song voice called out, “Abhi..” it said. Abhilasha sighed.It was Adikta again, she knew it was no use avoiding her as there was never any house avoiding anything in life. It would always come to bite you in the back when you would least expect it.

Like right now.

Abhi walked to the window cautiously and stared at her neighbor, silently cursing how closely built these row houses were. Abhilasha stared warily at Adikita and said, “Hey! Wassup?” Adikta smiled prettily and said, “Nothing at all darling you tell me.”Abhi shifted uncomfortably and said, “Nothing on this end either.” Adikta looked at her nails with a seeming nonchalance, “You are joining a new school are you not? The Centre for Excellence. “Yes”, replied Abhilasha. Praying that if she kept the conversation monosyllabic it would end sooner.

Around them, the wind whooshed and the win wailed piteously, the slender stalk of the sapling neem tree bent, and from its tender leaves rose a spray of cleansing scent into the air. However, that was intermixed with the stench of the Garbage dump a few paces away so the overall effect was unpleasant. Like the conversation that was taking place in the top tiers of two adjacent row houses.

Adikta, twirled a strand of glossy black hair and said, “Well, I guess it was a mistake then.”“If you are talking about this conversation than I wholeheartedly agree.”Quipped Abhi. Can I go in in now?” “Of course you can.” Said Adikta, you can go in whenever you like you know, I really don’t have to keep you waiting if you know what I mean.” She then let out a shrill, haunting laugh that resonated from post to post, rivaling the misery of the wind. “Just know” added Adikta,“And I’m sure you already know this, you are not enough for that the Centre for Excellence, I mean you were not even good enough for your last school, which is why you left. They did not want you really. You were a last resort Abhi, you did not get in on the first list did you?” Abhi gritted her teeth through the length of this exchange. There was many a time where she just wanted to raise a fist and ram it down Adikta’s throat. But she could not bring herself to do that, to such an old companion, even though this was not companionship anymore but its mossy, mildewed remains. “..also, who would want to be your friend in their right mind? Nobody! Nobody at all. Don’t even look to me like I’m a friend, for I’m not I’m my right mind for starters; one could even say that I’m in your mind.” The laughter ensued again. And just like that, at her own convenience,Adikta was gone. Abhi only then realized how tightly she was holding the cold metal railing at the tautness between each knuckle that stood out sharply constructing miniature trampolines, her skin was a mass of gooseflesh and she stood there in the balcony regardless head bowed, hair sweeping forward. She then released the railing and walked inside, slowly, purposefully measuring each breath of her’s. Though Adikta was been cruel, as she had gotten off late,what if she was right? What if no one wanted to befriend a slightly overweight bespectacled girl with an obsession with novels. What if…What it ..What if…..the words bounced around her head echoing all around her skull. Somehow the words translated themselves into a big You’re not good enough, which is why there exist so many what if’, so many uncertainties. With this heavy head, one besieged with dread, Abhilasha crashed onto her pillow and slept disturbed.

The night continued to be undecided.

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